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Trial on the Effect of Media Multi-tasking on Attention to Food Cues and Cued Overeating

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03882957
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : March 20, 2019
Last Update Posted : June 1, 2021
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Dartmouth College
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Brief Summary:
Childhood obesity is a critical public health problem in the United States. One factor known to contribute to childhood obesity is excess consumption. Importantly, excess consumption related to weight gain is not necessarily driven by hunger. For example, environmental food cues stimulate brain reward regions and lead to overeating even after a child has eaten to satiety. This type of cued eating is associated with increased attention to food cues; the amount of time a child spends looking at food cues (e.g., food advertisements) is associated with increased caloric intake. However, individual susceptibility to environmental food cues remains unknown. It is proposed that the prevalent practice of media multi-tasking-simultaneously attending to multiple electronic media sources-increases attention to peripheral food cues in the environment and thereby plays an important role in the development of obesity. It is hypothesized that multi-tasking teaches children to engage in constant task switching that makes them more responsive to peripheral cues, many of which are potentially harmful (such as those that promote overeating). The overarching hypothesis is that media multi-tasking alters the attentional networks of the brain that control attention to environmental cues. High media multi-tasking children are therefore particularly susceptible to food cues, thereby leading to increased cued eating. It is also predicted that attention modification training can provide a protective effect against detrimental attentional processing caused multi-tasking, by increasing the proficiency of the attention networks. These hypotheses will be tested by assessing the pathway between media-multitasking, attention to food cues, and cued eating. It will also be examined whether it is possible to intervene on this pathway by piloting an at-home attention modification training intervention designed to reduce attention to food cues. It is our belief that this research will lead to the development of low-cost, scalable tools that can train attention networks so that children are less influenced by peripheral food cues, a known cause of overeating. For example, having children practice attention modification intervention tasks regularly (which could be accomplished through user-friendly computer games or cell phone/tablet apps) might offset the negative attentional effects of media multi-tasking.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Attention Concentration Difficulty Obesity, Childhood Behavioral: Sustained attention Behavioral: media multi-task Other: Video Not Applicable

Detailed Description:
[3/14/2020]: Study recruitment temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 93 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Intervention Model Description: This is a within-subject design where each participant is randomly assigned to all three arms.
Masking: Single (Participant)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: Media Multi-tasking and Cued Overeating: Assessing the Pathway and Piloting an Intervention Using an Attentional Network Framework
Actual Study Start Date : June 5, 2019
Actual Primary Completion Date : March 12, 2020
Actual Study Completion Date : March 12, 2020

Arm Intervention/treatment
Active Comparator: Video
videos of media tasks being completed
Other: Video
participants will watch a video of media tasks being completed

Experimental: media multi-task
media tasks
Behavioral: media multi-task
participants will complete multiple media tasks at the same time

Experimental: sustained attention task
a cognitive task that trains sustained attention
Behavioral: Sustained attention
participants will complete a sustained attention task

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Amount of time spent looking at food cues while playing a media game [ Time Frame: approximately 15 minutes post-intervention ]
    Eye-tracking will be used to measure the amount of time spent looking at static food cues while participants play a media game on the computer. The amount time spent looking at a food cue is a measure how much attention was given to the food cue. The longer the looking time, the greater amount of attention.

  2. Amount of snack foods consumed post-intervention [ Time Frame: approximately 30 minutes post-intervention ]
    The amount of kcals consumed of snack foods after participants have completed the intervention.

  3. Daily usual media multi-tasking [ Time Frame: approximately 10 minutes prior to the intervention ]
    This questionnaire measures the amount of media multi-tasking in a typical hour of media use, by asking respondents to report their interaction with 12 forms of media. The 12 different media forms are print media, television, computer-based video, music, non-musical audio, video or computer games, telephone and mobile phone, instant messaging, text messaging, email, web surfing, and other computer-based applications. For each activity, respondents indicate how often they concurrently use the other 11 media forms, using a 4-point scale: never (0), a little of the time (0.33), some of the time (0.67), and most of the time (1).

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   13 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • N/A.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Inadequate English proficiency, a vision disorder that is not corrected with corrective lenses, and relevant food allergies.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03882957

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United States, New Hampshire
Dartmouth-Hithchock Medical Center
Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States, 03756
Sponsors and Collaborators
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Dartmouth College
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Principal Investigator: Diane Gilbert-Diamond, ScD Dartmouth College
  Study Documents (Full-Text)

Documents provided by Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center:
Yap JY, Lim SWH. Media multitasking predicts unitary versus splitting visual focal attention. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. Routledge; 2013 Nov;25(7):889-902.
Rideout VJ, Foehr UG, Roberts DF. Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8- to 10-year olds. 2010 Jan.
Rideout VJ. Zero to eight: Children's media use in America 2013. New York, New York: Common Sense Media.
Lohman TG, Roche AF, Martorell R. Anthropometric standardization reference manual. Champaign Ill: Human Kinetics Books; 1991.
CDC growth charts: United States [Internet]. Washington, DC. Available from:

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Responsible Party: Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Identifier: NCT03882957    
Other Study ID Numbers: D19065
1R21HD097475-01 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
First Posted: March 20, 2019    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: June 1, 2021
Last Verified: May 2021
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center:
Food cues
Media multi-tasking
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Pediatric Obesity
Nutrition Disorders
Body Weight
Signs and Symptoms, Digestive